ASCD Roundup

I promise this is the last word on ASCD10 and I’ll get back to bagging the National Curriculum next week 🙂 So, these are some of my ‘take-away’ points after being back for a couple of days, and before it all fades into distant memory.
The American education system IS different. Like us, with state interests, petty politicking, in-fighting and political interferance in things they know nothing about, but unlike us with huge issues in not achieving standards and a real belief that those standards mean something. The emphasis on standards has meant a pretty simplistic interpretation of what successful learning looks like. The day I got back I read that conservative elements in Texas had won the textbook battle and that they were putting their own stamp on History and Economics.
ASCD is HUGE; 8000 delegates which means if you’re into UbD, there’s ten sessions on that, if you’re into Curriculum mapping there’s seven sessions on that… Problem is, you have all these interesting conversations in the sessions and never see those people again.  Hi to Doug from Oregon, Cyndi from Kansas and Dana from New Jersey. Hope the rest of the conference went well!
Like lots of big institutions from the BBC to the New York Times, ASCD is trying to come to grips with what communication means nowadays.  A few people spoke about the major shift between ASC09 and ASCD10 in terms of the ASCD embracing much more social networking. ASCD Edge, their new Ning-like network was supplemented by some pretty active and commited twittering from their team. I went to my first Tweeup and met up some of the ASCD crew and some other interesting people.
The GFC persists in the USA as it doesn’t so obviously here. Principals and ‘supervisors’ from Florida and California were particularly concerned about the budget cuts that were being forced on to schools
I guess everyone’s looking for the ‘quick’fix’ that can be pushed out to save struggling schools and ASCD has obviously got a key role in supporting teachers and schools but it was interesting to the line-up of experts and the line-up of easy-to-pd lists, templates and frameworks. From UbD to GANAG,  from 12 Essential this, to 8 critical that, the tendency to list, reduce and package the solutions was a bit too clear. And a (natural?) emphasis on struggling schools, on getting everyone to a standard, not above it.
Most sessions were pretty passive, though to be fair they did have an ‘interactivity’ index in the conference book.
The mixed attitudes to teachers, from even within the profession, was evident. Some teachers are ‘achieving’ some are not. The Newsweek cover (below) I picked up at the airport epitomises where the profession is for some sections of the media, and some of the teachers themselves.
That said, the mood was positive, energetic and uplifting. People came to the conference with high expectations and a belief that what they did was important.  And it is!

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